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Friday, March 4, 2016

Who Wants The Ship To Sink?

Regarding the relatively low voter turnout for the Democrats on Super Tuesday, here are some points to consider:

There was record turnout in 2008 for both Clinton and Obama. It's wasn't all for Obama. Democrats were inspired by the prospect of either the first African-American or woman POTUS, but perhaps even more by the eight-year disaster that was George W. Bush. It should not be surprising that Democrats are more complacent now, while Republicans are particularly motivated to win back the White House after eight years of a Democrat in office, even though there is much more at stake now.

Also, the Democratic primary has been very, very ugly. Not to say "I told you so," but I've been saying for a while now that all the anti-Hillary, anti-establishment divisiveness is hurting the unity of the party. This has all been supported and pushed by Republicans. They know that when party unity is diminished, voter turnout is diminished. There is every reason to look critically at both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The primary should be about vetting the candidates, promoting discourse over pressing issues, and motivating the electorate to get involved. The goal is to prepare the electorate for a general election with no big surprises.  The goal shouldn't be to make sure the ship sinks if your favored candidate loses.

Yet, so far, there's been a violent asymmetry that betrays a "sink the ship" mentality. On the one hand, there have been spiteful, hateful, misinformed and even misogynistic smear campaigns against Hillary and the Democratic Party. The vetting of Hillary Clinton has long devolved into sensationalism, demonization and demoralization. On the other hand, there is a great deal of resistance to critical vetting of Sanders.

You might say that is all justified, because Hillary is evil and Bernie is the only hope for the future of America. You might also say that it's better to let the Democratic Party collapse than put Hillary in the White House. However, if you believe these things, then you don't believe Bernie Sanders. You don't believe him when he says he has great respect for Hillary Clinton. You don't believe him when he says she will be infinitely better than the best the Republicans can offer, even on her worst day. And you don't believe that he was being true to his principles when he said he would support the Democratic candidate no matter who it was.

Bernie has long caucused with the Democratic Party. He is also a long-time Clinton supporter. He criticizes the establishment, but he does not want the establishment to collapse. He wants its support. He needs its support. If you believe in him and trust him, then why not follow his lead on this? Help bring the Democratic Party together.

Personally, I don't agree with Sanders on a number of issues. I question his record on gun control. I do not think overturning Citizens United should be the deciding factor when appointing a Supreme Court Justice.  I am extremely skeptical of his protectionism and how it informs his approach to immigration and trade. I am skeptical of his ability to overcome white male privilege on a personal and ideological level, though I know he has surrogates and advisers and organizers who make it look like he's some kind of white male savior. I have serious doubts about Bernie.

I don't think Hillary is perfect. She struggles with white privilege, too. She has made mistakes. But when it comes to issues, I am much closer to her. Also, I see her as a stronger leader--not only nationally, but globally--and it excites me that she can be the first female President.

So, look . . . Let's continue to criticize, analyze, motivate, and activate. Let's have a healthy primary. But if your goal is to pull the party apart, then you are only doing the Republicans a favor.